By Chukwuemeka Opara
Mr Francis Nwifuru, Speaker of Ebonyi House of Assembly has assured members of Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE ) Ebonyi chapter, that the state government supports local government autonomy.
Nwifuru spoke in Abakaliki on Wednesday when NULGE members marched to the assembly complex to seek the lawmakers support for local government autonomy, already endorsed by the National Assembly.
The National Assembly endorsement to sail through, it must be endorsed by the houses of assemblies of two-thirds of the 36 states.
According to Nwifuru, besides the Assembly being in support of local government autonomy, Gov. Dave Umahi, is also highly in support of the autonomy.
According to the speaker, the governor endorsed the autonomy in a letter for constitutional amendments he sent to him as required by all State House of Assembly speakers.
“The speakers were invited to Lagos on the issue of constitutional amendments with relevant sections to be amended and asked to present the letters to their governors.
“My governor fortunately voted in support of the autonomy and told me that we should try them and leave Nigerians to see and deal with them if they fail,” he said.
The speaker advised NULGE not to hold him responsible for the outcome of the assembly members’ votes on the autonomy, but to immediately consult with their constituencies’ representatives before resumption from recess.
“You watched the National Assembly voting process during the constitutional amendment and you saw that the Senate President and Speaker of House of Representatives did not vote.
“They will only vote when there are contradictory situations to ascertain whether the issues will scale through or be rejected.
“Go and discuss with your representatives so that when we reconvene by Oct. 3 and start debating on them, you must have given them inputs to support the autonomy.
“You should dialogue, educate and give them clear explanations on the merits of local government autonomy because it is what all of us needs and can be achieved through unity,” he said.
Mr Leonard Nkah, Ebonyi NULGE President, noted that autonomy would ensure that local government chairmen would stop blaming state governors as excuses for non-performance.
“It will curb the excesses of the chairmen and abolish issues like bloating of workers and teachers payroll with its attendant vices and consequences.
“Autonomy will also enable the local governments bounce back with activities and replicate the state tier of government in areas of road construction, agricultural enhancement, revenue generation, among others.
He also remarked that autonomy will create a political-level playing ground for true grassroots politicians to emerge as chairmen and councillors.
“This will create a level of stability that will attract high profile individuals to participate in grassroots governance and contribute toward the tier’s enhancement.
“Autonomy will also create financial discipline to check financial mismanagement and obligation of the holders of the peoples’ mandates,” he said.
Mr Abimbola Babalola, National Trustee member of NULGE, who represented the National President, noted that autonomy of local governments would also ensure the autonomy of the state houses of assemblies.
NULGE members during the rally marched to the government house and through major streets of Abakaliki.